Giant 20ft rhino fossils unearthed in Chinese region famous for ‘dragon bones’

Giant 20 foot tall rhino fossils have been unearthed where Chinese farmers first found "dragon bones".

Experts said the newly-discovered species weighed more than 20 tons and was one of the largest land mammals to ever live.

It has been named after where the remains were discovered in the Gansu province of north west China in May 2015.

One fossil consisted of a skull, jawbone and teeth, and the atlas vertebra – where the head connects to the spine – while the other consisted of three vertebrae, reported NBC News.

Tao Deng, the director of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said the Linxia region has been famous for fossils since the 1950s, when local farmers there first found “dragon bones” that were used to make traditional medicines.

Researchers named the species Paraceratherium linxiaense and published their findings in the Communications Biology journal.

Deng said his team had discovered several complete skeletons of ancient mammals in Linxia since the 1980s.

But they’d only found fragments of giant rhinoceros fossils and more complete fossils have been found elsewhere in China.

Deng said it was slightly smaller than Dzungariotherium orgosense, a species identified from fossils from China in the 1970s, but it was around a fifth larger than the relatively common Paraceratherium bugtiense first identified in now Pakistan in the early 1900s.

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None of the giant rhinos had horns on their noses, with the trait evolving later on in their modern rhino descendants.

The discovery of giant rhino remains astounded the world in the 1920s and the shockwaves are still felt to this day.

A string of Hollywood movies were inspired after American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews who found their fossils in Mongolia and China.

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His team found giant rhinoceros fossils in the largely unexplored Gobi Desert and returned a fossilized skull of one beast to New York.

It went on display in the American Museum of Natural History becoming for a time more famous than dinosaurs, according to historians.

Most gigantic mammals died out when the climate became much drier and the giant forests they relied on disappeared about 34 to 23 million years ago.

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